Hogs 286-7, declared, 51 overs (H Fisher 78, J Burrows 2-34)
Martlets 210-7, 50 overs, (J Shaw 65, W Rydon 52*, J Hunt 43)
You know it`s been a good day when you are so excited that you can`t sleep. It happens (to me anyway) when I`ve been to a great concert or performance at the theatre (remember those).
Or when you`ve been to a fantastic party with old friends or to a truly special sporting occasion. This particular Tuesday, at one of the world`s most beautiful grounds, felt like both of those.
And it was a beautiful sunny day!
Upon arrival the setting was stunning, as always. The conversation with the Hogs skipper at the toss was, however, as disconcerting as the sight of an extremely youthful looking opposition squad.
Walker “have you played here before Harry?”
Came “yes, I was lucky enough to play 3 games here this summer”
Walker “oh, who for?”
He wasnt the only one! The star Hants spinner Felix Organ was also up against the Martlets, as was Dorset`s keeper and recent centurion v Wales, Harry Fisher.
Then a quick age-related cross-examination.
Walker “er, how many over 25s do you have today Harry?”
In fact 7 of the Martlets dream team were over 50 years young and only the (very welcome) presence of young Shaw nudged the average age down to 46!!
Fortunately the Martlets had been planning for such an encounter by a gruelling programme involving the evolution of crack over 40s warrior cricketers. This season has followed on from last with some fine performances by our seniors.
The Hogs won the toss and, as expected, chose to bat.
At a well-deserved drinks the Hogs were 86-2 off 16. Burrows and Horsham had toiled away in the sunshine and done well. At lunch our guests were 162-4 off 30 and the president told us we were on top. Brian was one of a sizable crowd, who were enjoying a captivating spectacle.
Wickets were shared out (it was that sort of day) between Burrows, Shaw, Walker, Beechey, Rydon and Hunt. Champagne moments from the first innings – Josh`s caught and bowled, Fisher`s sparkling 78 and Will`s fine catch of Came.
287 required. A slightly ungenerous declaration, but off we went. Ashworth was unlucky with an unplayable one, but by tea we were 84-1 and it was game on. At 110-1, with Shaw and Hunt playing beautifully the Hogs were squealing.
And then in the 18th over controversy. Organ and the youth clamour for a caught behind after Jordan cracks his bat into the ground. We all heard the noise, but surely it was willow on crease not bat on ball? The umpire sided with the bowler and the batsman, heading for an inevitable century, was crestfallen. Jordie dragged himself off as the umpires conferred. What messers Drake and Spink discussed is obviously privileged….but perhaps it was not entirely coincidental that Degs was given not out to a plumb LBW shortly thereafter!
The Marlets dug in. This was proper cricket. Beechey made 1, but he was there for 20 minutes facing one of the best young spinners in England. Horsham batted for over an hour for his 21 and Akers-Douglas was out in the middle for almost 40 minutes against a team described as “the best ever Hogs team I`ve played in” by one of their elder statemen (aged 24).
It was tough. Patrick Jackson (literally a Martlet warrior) tore his hamstring and was carried off. Johnny Wills fell to an amazing Organ delivery. In went Burrows at 10, with only Walker in the hutch. Oh dear. When Josh strode out we had 14 overs to survive. Hearts were in mouths for the next 45 minutes.
And how did the man Josh went out to join, Will Rydon, help calm those nerves?
He did it by stroking 12 boundaries to all corners of the sumptuous arena and hardly breaking into a sweat. Will`s richly deserved 50 came in Organ`s final over. It felt magical !
We`d done it. Hugs all round (after first smearing each other in sanitiser obviously). Celebratory beers (come on Josh – you can celebrate a draw like that) with the exceptional Trevor Drake and Andy Hodder (many thanks for jaw-dropping scorecard and statistics). Thanks also to Mrs H for scorebox assistance.
After the sun had set at the castle a lucky 6 made our way to the Black Rabbit to continue a day none of us wanted to end. We talked cricket, tours, rubbish and Valerie Singleton…from what I can remember.
A day to savour. Thanks to all involved in playing, officiating and watching. But equally to those Martlets who made this game and a quite remarkable 28 (or so) matches happen once lockdown restrictions were lifted. Special mention to Mike Charman, Alan Newman, Darryl Rebbetts, Stuart Ritchie and all match managers. Your hard work enabled many Martlets and countless opposition players to enjoy wonderful cricket at a time when we needed it most. Thank you.
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